Phil Robertson banned from Duck Dynasty


Phil Robertson has been chucked off Duck Dynasty:

When a media figure gets suspended for making an offensive statement, the tricky thing often is figuring out which part of it he or she got suspended for.

Star and duck-call mogul Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, for instance, was indefinitely suspended by A&E Wednesday after an interview with GQ in which he called homosexuality sinful — like, in his words, drunkenness, bestiality, promiscuity, and terrorism — and in specifically anatomical terms saying why he thought being gay was “illogical.”

But which was the actionable part? Was he suspended for believing that being gay is a sin? For saying it out loud? For saying it in those terms?

Oh good grief.

In TV, writers talk about getting notes from the network to “make the subtext text.” That is, rather than be subtle, or hint at the meaning of a scene or dialogue without saying it in so many words, you need to make it clear so that nobody in your audience misses it. Robertson got in trouble, for once in TV history, for making the subtext text — for being explicit about the conservative Christianity that, when it was subtext, was a selling point for him and for his show.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to be Christian or conservative to like Duck Dynasty. It’s a comedy — a reality comedy, but still a sitcom, with sitcom setups and zingers — you just have to think it’s funny. I’ve only watched a handful of Duck Dynasty episodes — sometimes funny, not really for me — but nothing in it was predicated on accepting eternal hellfire for breaking the strictures of Leviticus. And likewise, you don’t have to disdain gay people or think being gay will send you to Hell to be a Christian — many, many Christians, some of them gay Christians, prove otherwise.

But for at least part of the huge Duck Dynasty audience, the Robertsons’ faith is part of the appeal: the fact that they’re public, devout Christians with a public platform, even if their faith was mostly background to the zany family antics. They might not be preaching, but if you cared enough you knew: they were keeping it real. And then there was the part of the show’s vibe that was less religious than cultural, but was still connected: that the show was about nostalgia, for the authentic ways, old days, and down-home values.

There were enough of all kinds of fans — family viewers and comedy fans and fans of the culture — to make the show a massive cable hit. As long as the subtext was subtext. But with Phil doing an interview in a national magazine, talking gay people, anuses, damnation — oh, and how the Japanese fought us in WWII because they didn’t have Jesus?

Have not these people heard of freedom of speech rather than sanitised and censored speech? If Phil Robertson says something dumb then he is allowed to say dumb stuff…we all then get to mock his out of date views.

Banning speech because you don’t like it is a slippery slope.

You either believe in free speech or don’t believe in it.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.